The Rapture and the Revelation: Explaining the Mystery of the Rapture for the Church

EXPLAINING the MYSTERY
of the RAPTURE for the Church

Dr. Mike Johnston

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

 Apparently there were teachers spreading false doctrine about the resurrection in the Greek church at Corinth. One group denied it altogether (15:12-19), while others raised questions about how mortal bodies could possibly live in an eternal realm (15:35-53). After dispelling the first error, Paul focused on the second: Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption (1 Corinthians 15:50). Paul then explains how this will happen by introducing the mystery of the rapture- which he believed to be imminent: Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed (51). It is clear from this text that Paul was unveiling something that had not been known in the Old Testament.

Definition of Mystery

The definition of the word mystery given by Webster’s 1828 Dictionary of English Words is “a profound secret; something wholly unknown or something kept cautiously concealed, and therefore exciting curiosity or wonder . . . in religion, anything in the character or attributes of God, or in the economy of divine providence, which is not revealed to man.”

Anti-PreTrib rapturists tell their followers that Paul’s mystery was merely that  the dead would materialize. However, the prophet Isaiah dispels that notion because it was widely known: Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:19 see also Job 19:25-26; Dan. 12:2).

The fact is, when Paul introduced the rapture, he did so as a well educated duly connected ex-member of the powerful, prestigious Jewish Sanhedrin and graduate of the University of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3) where his extensive study of the prophets and OT Law included the hope of a future resurrection (Psalm 2:5-9; Isa. 2:1-4; 26:19-21; Dan. 12:2; etc), which incidentally continued to dominate religious thinking on through the time of Christ (John 11:24). With this unassailable educational backdrop, Paul unveiled the rapture resurrection of the church as a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51-53; see 1 Thess. 4:13-18), to the mystery people (the church)- (Eph. 3:3-9; 5:32) as part of the dispensation of the mystery we are now in (Eph. 3:2-4; see also Romans 11:25; 16:25; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 15:51; Ephesians 1:9; 3:3,4,9; 5:32; 6:19; Colossians 1:26,27; 2:2; 4:3; 1 Timothy 3:9).

The Seven Year Tribulation

The purpose of the tribulation is to judge sin and purify Israel and her supporters for the Millennial Kingdom ( Obad. 1:15; Matt. 25:31-46). There isn’t a verse anywhere in Scripture that clearly assigns the church to this dreadful time on earth and Anti-PreTrib rapturists do no justice to truth to suggest there is. There are only three ways to place the church in the  tribulation: (1) by wresting Scripture from its context where it clearly can be found implicating Israel and the Gentiles, not the Bride of Christ (Rev. 19:9; 21:2,9; 22:17); (2) by superimposing the church over the top of Israel, which is Satanic Replacement Theology condemned by the Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 2:9; 3:9); or (3) by a dogged determination to maintain the anti-rapture position even when presented with clear evidence refuting it.

Surpassing the horrors of Pharaoh’s Egypt or Hitler’s Germany, the tribulation portends the most savage historical period the earth has ever hosted. Cults and occultists through history have wandered into all kinds of error by assigning this horrendous time of judgment to the church. The tribulation, or  Day of the Lordtribulation (see Joel), is specifically prophesied for Israel. Many believe it will begin ostensibly through a covenant [1] signed by the Antichrist who brokers a pseudo peace deal between Israel and her Islamic enemies (Dan. 9:27) while establishing Jewish rites to rebuilding the Temple. At the halfway point of the Tribulation- three and a half years- that Wicked (2 Thess. 2:8) Antichrist will annul the covenant with Israel, enter the Temple and through The Abomination of Desolation demand to be worshiped (Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

Brief Overview

What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God (Romans 3:1-2). Inspired by the Divine Hand, Daniel along with other prophets warned Israel about the coming Day of the Lordtribulation  that it would embroil Israel and engulf the earth prior to the Millennial reign: there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time (Daniel 12:1). Without question, the prophet is warning Israel- NOT the church- of a coming Day of the Lordtribulation (read Isa. 26:16-21).

The length of the tribulation has been debated more than has its purpose. It appears from experts including Walvoord, Lindsey, LaHaye, Pentecost, Van Impe, Ice, and others that the Day of the Lordtribulation consists of three-and-a-half years of pseudo world peace under a covenant signed by the Antichrist (Daniel 7:8; Revelation 13:1-8) and his world-church (Revelation 17:1-15), followed by three-and-a-half years of horrendous persecution and suffering (Revelation 6-18). Jesus told His Jewish followers: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be Matthew 24:21). The Lord then foretold His return in the revelation: Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:  (30)  And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory (Matthew 24:29-30; read Rev. 19:11).

It’s no secret that Anti-PreTrib rapturists often cite the above passage as one of their “gotcha” texts for a post-trib rapture. However, one problem generally ignored by them is how the church can be on earth at the same time she returns with the Lord?

The Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints . . . (Jude 1:14, see also Matthew 24:27-31; 1 Thess. 3:13; Revelation 19:11-21).

For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming (1 Thessalonians 2:19)? Clearly, the coming of the Messiah spoken of in Matthew 24 is the revelation of Christ with His church, not the rapture for His church!

Three Speculative Rapture Teachings

Dispensationalists by and large, therefore, do not believe the church will be here for any part of the Day of the Lord-tribulation because it was given as prophecy for Israel and the Gentile world, not as a mystery for the church. And while we stand without apology in defense of this position, there are three theories violently attacking us for it: (1) Mid-tribulation Rapture- Christ returns for His Church sometime in the middle of the tribulation, and with His Church after the tribulation; (2) Pre-wrath Rapture- Christ returns for His Church just prior to God’s outpouring of wrath, and with His Church after the tribulation (this is the newest); and the (3) Post-tribulation Rapture-[i] also called the yo-yo theory- which they vehemently object to- because Christ returns immediately after the tribulation for His Church and with His Church in some way simultaneously. Those holding this view stand absolutely alone in seeing only one part of the 2nd Coming.

It goes without saying as a dispensationalist I affirm the validity of the PreTrib position as well as the absurdity of the three adversarial arguments which have- for the most part- depended upon the bogus bag of baloney I discussed earlier and will reveal shortly. Since much of their unconscionable attacks (if you read their books, you’ll see why I chose that word) stem from distorting history, I’m going to quote existing documentation that will unmask the “other side” thereby leaving us wondering- or rather knowing–  what they’re really up to.

Imminency of Rapture in Church History

Studying the rapture in church history is an eye opening pursuit; one I’m convinced Anti-PreTrib rapturists hope you won’t undertake. While they do make valid claims that prejudicial historians can shade the past and make it say anything they want, truth finds them covered in the very same tar they’ve poured out on others.

When studying church history, doctrinal soundness, reputation, and scholarship need to top the author’s list. I challenge you to compare Pre-Trib credentials with the practically unknowns espousing anti-rapture positions. The contrast speaks for itself. Much of what follows is gleaned from highly regarded, world renowned theologians all: Drs. Renald Showers, Gerald Stanton, Tim LaHaye, Chuck Missler, John Walvoord, Grant Jeffrey, Tommy Ice, Jack Van Impe, Harold Willmington, and many others. May I suggest that along with getting an Old Scofield Study Bible[2] (KJV, 1917 notes) you also get as many of these author’s books for your library as possible. These men have collectively turned tens of thousands of research hours into countless volumes of credible material that will verify every historical detail I’m about to share regarding the tribulation and imminency of the blessed hope (Titus 2:13) that has existed in the church since the day when Paul first introduced it.

The Historical Doctrine of Imminency

The destruction of the doctrine of imminency is at the forefront of all anti-rapturist materials. If you only read their self-serving view of history you will never discover that the expectation that Christ could return at any moment originated with the first century church. “Imminency,” wrote Gerald Stanton, [ii] “has been the consistent belief of evangelical Christians down through the centuries. While theological terms such as trinity, theophany, imminency, inerrancy and premillenial developed gradually over the centuries, it is clear that although they did not use the term, imminency was indeed the expectation of the Apostolic Church.”

Dr. John F. Walvoord agrees: “The central feature of pretribulationism, the doctrine of imminency, is, however, a prominent feature of the doctrine of the early church … [which] lived in constant expectation of the coming of the Lord for His church.”

The Lord Jesus Taught Imminency

Imminency rests upon many Scriptures including Christ’s promise to keep His church from (ek) the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10). It is most noteworthy that Paul used the same Greek word in Second Thessalonians: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out (ek) of the way (2:7). Anti-PreTrib rapturists that refuse to allow the Word to say what it is saying aren’t simply fighting against human opponents, but with the original inspired writing. According to Thayer and Zodhiates Complete Word Study, the primary meaning of the Greek ek translated from in Rev. 3:10) and out (in 2 Thess. 2:7) literally means “out of” not “through” or “in” as they want the unlearned to believe. Dave Hunt adds this insight: “Christ exhorts us: Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord…blessed are those servants whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching….Be ye therefore ready…for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not (Lk 12:35-40). Such language doesn’t fit a post-anything Rapture, for it would be foolish to watch and wait for One who will not come until after Antichrist appears or the Great Tribulation or Millennium have come and gone.” [iii]

Paul Taught Imminency

So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:7). Paul’s writings reflect his belief in imminency. They are filled with teachings about Christ’s rapture for the church and later a separate revelation with the church (see 1-2 Thessalonians where every chapter refers to either the rapture or the revelation). It is no small matter that he encourages us to look for the Lord Jesus, without a word spoken to watch out for the antichrist, resist the mark, stockpile food, weaponry, or anything of the like. In all candor, Anti-PreTrib rapturists prove to be most dishonorable when they deflect, deny, and distort these clear teachings- including Paul’s silence- simply to force their skewed Pre-wrath, mid-trib, and/or post-trib conclusions onto clear PreTrib meanings.

The Early Church Taught Imminency

The early church taught that Christ could return at any moment, corroborated by much more information available today than there was a few  decades ago when Anti-PreTrib rapturists first entered the apex of their frenzy. Historical preservationists using modern technology now make it possible to access and study ancient documents 24/7 that easily refute the false allegations made by the self aggrandizing enemies of the rapture. Dr. Hutchings disclosed that Edward Gibbons on page 187 of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire describes the clear imminent expectation of Christ held by the early church. [iv] Along with that, Clement, Polycarp, Barnabas, the Didache, Shepherd of Hermes, Dialogue with Trypho, Ephraem the Syrian, and many more all attest to a belief in the imminent, PreTrib rapture of the church. Dr. Walvoord quotes the Didache- a compilation of the Apostle’s teachings- dated about 100-120 A.D., containing the exhortation: “Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh.”

In his book Maranatha Our Lord, Come Dr. Renald Showers[v] writes: [vi] “The early church holding this premillennial view looked for the imminent return of Christ as witnessed by the writings of Papias, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Methodus, Commodianus, and Lactantius.”

Adolph Harnack, although a member of the liberal theological school, out of sheer honesty as an historian, has written:”In the history of Christianity three main forces are found to have acted as auxiliaries to the gospel. They have elicited the ardent enthusiasm of men whom the bare preaching of the gospel would never have made decided converts. These [include] a belief in the speedy return of Christ and in His glorious reign on earth …. First in point of time came the faith in the nearness of Christ’s second advent and the establishing of His reign of glory on the earth. Indeed it appears so early that it might be questioned whether it ought not to be regarded as an essential part of the Christian religion.”

Jesse Forest Silver, in his excellent book The Lord’s Return has written of the Apostolic Fathers: “They expected the return of the Lord in their day …. They believed the time was imminent because their Lord had taught them to live in a watchful attitude.” And concerning the Ante- Nicene Fathers, he says: “By tradition they knew the faith of the Apostles. They taught the doctrine of the imminent and premillenial return of the Lord”. [vii]

Imminency and the Struggle for Truth

As with all precious truth, the PreTrib doctrine wasn’t held without a struggle, so when Christ didn’t return when many expected, the focus over time shifted. In those formative years, heresies emerged within the church requiring refutation; most of them directly related to issues impugning the Godhead, deity of Christ, the trinity, and more. Later a group of divergents began twisting other truths, like the Montanists [viii] (modern day Charismatic-Pentecostals) who were pushing ecstatic gibberish [modern day tongues] and extra-biblical prophetic revelation, claiming equal inspiration and authority with those who penned the Scriptures. The early church quickly recognized this as heresy [even though promoted under Charismatic-Pentecostalism today], and finally at the Council of Laodicea in 397 AD the canon [the Books of Scripture the church had accepted already] was considered closed.

Augustinian Catholicism: History and Heresy

As Rome consolidated political power under the banner of the cross, the blood bought church went into hiding taking with it precious truths like a blessed hope for an imminent rapture. Dave Hunt writes: “Their imminent Rapture to heaven was the great hope of the early Christians. To this fact the New Testament bears undeniable witness. That hope, however, was largely lost during the Dark Ages of Roman Catholic domination, and only a fraction of the church has recovered it and kept it alive since the Reformation. Sadly, that “blessed hope” (Ti 2:13) is being lost again in the flood of ecumenism and false teaching that is inundating the church today.” [ix]

Noah Hutchings elaborates further: “After Constantine and the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church, the church was going to bring in the Kingdom; therefore, the pre-millennial return of Jesus Christ was no longer needed nor taught. This doctrine was replaced with reformed or covenant eschatology, which stressed that the Church had inherited all the promises to Israel.”

Enter Augustine, a Platonic Roman Catholic influenced much by Persian Manichaeism (a raging influence before and after conversion). [x] His writings were later systematized and popularized through  John Calvin’s Institutes which brought Predestination [xi] (aka Predetermination: the abolition of free will, teaching that humans have no choice regarding Heaven or Hell) and the reformation- a most unlikely contra Catholic opponent. Many today- especially “evangelicals” and other Romanist sympathizers- consider Augustine’s accomplishments absolutely unassailable. However, please understand this man did no favors for orthodox Christianity or the imminent PreTrib rapture position by needlessly spiritualizing Scripture. Augustine’s summations only served to advance many of the heresies still extant in the Roman and Reformed churches: Baptismal Regeneration (baptism provides salvation), Purgatory (between heaven and hell where sins are finally atoned for by the sinner); and Amillennialism, the spiritualization of the Book of Revelation- including Israel’s promised 1000 year millennial kingdom. Dr. Walvoord explains the progression of Augustine’s strange doctrinal proclivities as they unleashed Amillennialism to an unsuspecting world:

The importance of Augustine to the history of amillennialism is derived from two reasons. First, there are no acceptable exponents of amillennialism before Augustine, as has been previously discussed. Prior to Augustine, amillennialism was associated with the heresies produced by the allegorizing and spiritualizing school of theology at Alexandria which not only opposed premillennialism but subverted any literal exegesis of Scripture whatever. Few modern theologians even of liberal schools of thought would care to build upon the theology of such men as Clement of Alexandria, Origen or Dionysius. Augustine is, then, the first theologian of solid influence who adopted amillennialism. The second reason for the importance of Augustinian amillennialism is that his viewpoint became the prevailing doctrine of the Roman Church, and it was adopted with variations by most of the Protestant Reformers along with many other teachings of Augustine. The writings of Augustine, in fact, occasioned the shelving of premillennialism by most of the organized church. The study of Augustine on the millennial question is a necessary introduction to the doctrine as a whole.[xii]

Under Romanist oppression fueled by Augustinian theology, Premillennialism largely disappeared after the Catholic Council of Ephesus in 431 AD condemned it as heresy. It wasn’t until the reform movement of the early seventeenth century that we saw a rebound in the number of statements that reflected the pretribulational view we hold dear to today.

Defending the Rapture Today

In the tradition of the early church fathers as well as more recent dispensational mainstays such as Darby, Scofield, Larkin, Moody, Ironside and others, Hal Lindsey’s 1970 ground-breaking PreTrib legacy entitled The Late Great Planet Earth ignited Christians around the world with fresh fires of hope in the soon return of Jesus Christ. Subsequently, this informative treatise brought every anti-rapture rogue out of the closet fully armed with an ego and a pocket full of epithets- I’m ashamed to admit- equal in many ways to those you might hear during a drunkards brawl at midnight.

The Sham and the Shame of Anti-PreTrib Rapturists

Beginning in the 1950s, the anti-rapture propaganda surfaced fiercely attacking the blessed hope (Titus 2:13) with a “Big Lie” about its origin. It galvanized two decades later under the influence of an angry and somewhat paranoid [3] Kansas City newspaper reporter named Dave MacPherson’s [4] Incredible Cover Up book series. MacPherson’s big lie- which is advanced by all yet proved by none [xiii] is that a mass cover-up [xiv] exists to hide the dubious beginning of the PreTrib rapture they claim never existed before 1830. According to MacPherson this is about the time a cadre of corrupt “Christian” conmen- for some undisclosed reason-  hatched an evil plot to deceive the church using a bizarre vision- with no reference to a PreTrib rapture- given by a 15 year old charismatic lass named Margaret MacDonald, that none of them knew, and had never met. And while this may appear too outrageous to gain any support, think again. This was- and is- their best-efforts scholarship- heralded by most ARs and their devotees as unassailable truth, that  no doubt would have continued virtually uncontested had it not been for a few judicious Christian journalists that researched historical documents and reported the ironic results:

It appears MacPherson and the Anti-PreTrib rapturists themselves have been guilty of the very thing they’ve sullied us with: covering up the origin of the PreTrib rapture.

Response to the Anti-Rapturist Allegations

Attacks from Anti-PreTrib rapturists have been anything but civil, let alone Christian. When esteemed scholar and prophecy father Dr. John Walvoord finally had his fill of all the scathing innuendo he threw down the gauntlet: “I challenge opponents of the pre-trib rapture to stick to a discussion of this matter based upon the Scriptures. While some have done this, many have not been so honest. To call the pre-trib position Satanic, as Rosenthal has done, does not help anyone in this discussion.” The following is a mere sampling of the incendiary anti-rapturist allegations floating around that I discovered while researching this booklet.

Anti-rapturist Allegation: “None of the church fathers taught imminency or a PreTrib rapture- and all that say they did are liars!”

Historical Truth: Wrong! They certainly did believe in an imminent, PreTrib rapture and addressed one another with Maranatha which means “the Lord is at hand.” The Lord Jesus taught: Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh (Matthew 24:44; see Luke 12:40). And Paul incessantly instructed the church to watch for Christ in anticipation of His any moment arrival: 1 Cor.. 1:7; 4:5; Phil 3:20-21; 4:5; 1 Thess. 1:9-10; 4:16-17; 5:5-9; Titus 2:13. It was in fact labeled a blessed hope was it not (Titus 2:13)? Dr. Henry Thiessen further refutes these false allegations with the following: “The early Church was keenly interested in the doctrine of the return of Christ. The Apostles had held out the possibility of His returning in their day, and the next generations kept alive the “blessed hope” as something that was imminent. Not until the third century was there any great exception to this rule; but from the time of Constantine onward this truth began to be rejected until it was finally entirely set aside.”[xv] Anti-PreTrib rapturists go so far with this distortion as to suggest Paul never taught the imminency. The fact is, Paul believed he would be alive for the rapture which he looked for in his life time: we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord . . .  we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed (1 Thess. 4:15; 1 Cor. 15:51; see also Phil 3:20; 1 Thess. 1:10; Titus 2:13).

Anti-rapturist Allegation: “That the PreTrib rapture never appeared until 1830 (Macdonald’s vision) and that JN Darby and CI Scofield collaborated with the devil (for whatever unspecified and unknown reason) to fool the church by using Miss MacDonald’s vision in the notes of the Scofield Study Bible!”

Historical Truth: Wrong! First off, much end time study is uncovering hidden truth that I believe to be in fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy: But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased (Daniel 12:4, 9)? Also, as mentioned, history proves the church fathers indeed taught an imminent, pre-trib rapture. So did ensuing generations. From JR Church’s Prophecy in the News, April 1995, p.27-28: “Two ancient sources, the Shepherd of Hermes (AD 110) and two books by Ephraim the Syrian (AD 376) which were recently translated into English) prove the apostolic authority of the pretrib rapture.” Although it could be argued that these sources aren’t to be regarded as Scripture, it also could be argued that neither are the authorities freely quoted by the mid, pre-wrath, partial and post-trib camp (Gundry, Ladd, MacPherson, etc). In A Sermon by Ephraem the Syrian (306-373) he wrote: “For all the saints and elect of God are gathered prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.” Moreover, it has recently come to light that an 18th century Baptist named Morgan Edwards held to a pretribulation rapture. [xvi] Manuel Lacunza Y Díaz (July 19, 1731 – June 17 1801) also wrote about prophecy from a futurist viewpoint in The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty. Lacunza taught that Jesus returns not once, but twice, and at the “first stage” of His return He “raptures” His Church so they can escape the reign of the “future Antichrist.” Completed in 1790, it was placed on the Vatican’s Index of Forbidden Books in 1824. In his book Matthew 24 Fulfilled (p.304), Southern Baptist evangelist, John L. Bray claimed to have copies of a book published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1788 but written in 1742-1744 in England, which taught the pretribulation rapture before Lacunza. A number of authors, notably Grant Jeffrey, have published citations of several pre-Macdonald sources describing a raptured Church and teaching the pre-tribulation rapture—some written as early as the second century. As for JN Darby, his writings show he discovered the rapture from rightly dividing the Word of truth where he saw the distinction between Israel and the church in 1827- three years before the MacDonald vision. The fact is, while MacPherson incessantly attacks Darby as if the rapture rises and falls on him, anyone that studies the second coming inconsistencies and is wise enough to tie it to the dispensational distinction between Israel and the church will have no trouble whatsoever discerning between the rapture and the revelation.

Anti-rapturist Allegation: “That all who teach a PreTrib rapture are culpable for the death of millions of Christians worldwide (especially the Chinese) that had been taught the rapture!”

Historical Truth: Wrong! Mr. MacPherson seems to be the first one who made this preposterous accusation, but sadly he was not the last. Most of his devotees have alleged the very same thing- albeit with much passion and yet without a shred of evidence; including an early Bible teacher years ago who warned me about the Satanic origin of the PreTrib rapture. The truth is, Christians of every age- whether or not they have believed the PreTrib rapture- have suffered persecution, including today. This is simply one of their most desperate- and may I add, deceptive- attempts at discrediting the PreTrib position. MacPherson and his minions should be ashamed of themselves.

Anti-rapturist Allegation: “That all who teach a PreTrib rapture are in a pact with the devil to willfully deceive the church!”

Historical Truth: Wrong! Think about the far reaching scope of this unsavory and unchristian blanket accusation. This baseless diatribe implicates some of the finest Bible scholars in the world, including church fathers and scholars such as Paul, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, JN Darby, CI Scofield, Charles Spurgeon, DL Moody, HA Ironside, RA Torrey, Arno C. Gaebelein, J. Dwight Pentecost, Harold Willmington, Ed Hindson, Zola Levitt, Renald Showers, Jimmy DeYoung, Randell Price, David Hocking, John Walvoord, Mark Hitchcock, Tommy Ice, Chuck Missler, Lehman Strauss, Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, JR Church, Dave Hunt, Gary Stearman, Tim LaHaye, Jack Van Impe and on and on. And while this impressive list does not in itself prove the dispensational, PreTrib position, it certainly makes a strong statement in it favor when compared with the host of unfamiliar names attached to their roster of those opposing it.

Conclusion: Scholars Don’t Buy the Big Lie

Thankfully, dispensational Bible scholars capable of rightly dividing the word of truth have not fallen prey to the vicious lies and truth twisting put forth by the anti-rapture crowd. From his website, Dr. Tommy Ice writes:

“The various “rapture origin” theories espoused by opponents of pre-tribulationism are not accepted as historically valid by scholars who have examined the evidence. The only ones who appear to have accepted these theories are those who already are opposed to the pre-trib rapture. A look at various scholars and historians reveals that they think, in varying degrees, that MacPherson has not proven his point. Most, if not all who are quoted below do not hold to the pre-trib rapture teaching.

Ernest Sandeen declares,

“This seems to be a groundless and pernicious charge. Neither Irving [xvii] nor any member of the Albury group advocated any doctrine resembling the secret rapture. . . . Since the clear intention of this charge is to discredit the doctrine by attributing its origin to fanaticism rather than Scripture, there seems little ground for giving it any credence.”


[1] How ironic. Israel will reject God’s covenants and accept this one.

[2] We have these available in beautiful bonded leather for a gift to PMI of just $30. In this way, you help us minister to you and to others.

[3] According to Robert Sumner in The Biblical Evangelist, May 1975, p.8, “Macpherson has a bad habit of attributing all kinds of personal tragedies to the pre-trib teaching:  his mother’s death, his sister’s inability to have more children, his own failure to follow through on his calling as an evangelist, and other matters.” MacPherson’s father equally plagued by maladies purported to have stemmed from the rapture.

[4] We realize other anti-rapturists exist such as George Ladd, Robert Gundry, Alexander Reese, James McKeever, et al, but will mainly focus on MacPherson since he makes his living by viciously attacking all PreTrib men.


[i] Dr. Walvoord says that although a few Bible believing conservatives hold to this view, it is the one that all liberals hold due to their disdainful belief in an error-ridden Bible.

[ii] Unless otherwise noted, all quotes for Gerald Stanton are from his book Kept from the Hour.

[iii] Let’s Get Serious About Imminency- http://www.thebereancall.org/node/5898

[iv] Page 189 of Why So Many Churches?

[v] Unless otherwise noted, all quotes for Renald Showers are from his book Maranatha, Our Lord Come.

[vi] Dr. Showers also says the ante-Nicene fathers were committed to imminence.

[vii] I have quoted several excerpts from Stanton and others found at: http://www.focusonjerusalem.com/thedoctrineofimminency.html

[viii] The modern apostolic movement claims the same thing. Write for our brochure: Apostles Today? or our booklet: The New Age Charismatic Seed of Corruption.

[ix] “Let’s Get Serious About Imminency- ttp://www.thebereancall.org/node/5898

[x]  The syncretic, dualistic religious philosophy taught by the Persian prophet Manes, combining elements of Zoroastrian, Christian, and Gnostic thought and opposed by the imperial Roman government, Neo-Platonist philosophers, and orthodox Christians. A dualistic philosophy dividing the world between good and evil principles or regarding matter as intrinsically evil and mind as intrinsically good. (answers.com)

[xi] We believe in predestination as defined by Paul where it works in conjunction with the believers free will (Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:5, 11), not in opposition to it.

[xiii] It is amazing to me how this undocumented assumption ever became the capstone contention against the PreTrib rapture. Googling this on the internet proves just how pervasive this supposition really is.

[xiv] This false idea came to fruition from the incendiary writings of Alexander Reese, Dave MacPherson, James McKeever, and George Ladd, all of which either label the PreTrib rapture a dangerous- even Satanic- heresy.

[xv] Dr. Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1977, p.441

[xvi] Quoted in Pre-Trib Perspectives Sept/Oct 1995

[xvii] Edward Irving was the heretical pastor of the church Margaret MacDonald attended.

2 Responses to The Rapture and the Revelation: Explaining the Mystery of the Rapture for the Church

  1. Bro. Gary says:

    Praise the Lord brethern !

    Just wanted to share a really interesting scripture study I found !

    Revelation 20:4-5 clearly shows that the FIRST resurrection will INCLUDE endtime saints who RESISTED or OVERCAME the Mark of the Beast. That is certainly not a pre-trib scenario. If there will be people in the FIRST RESURRECTION who overcame the Mark of the Beast, then there will not be a rapture or resurrection before the Mark of the Beast!

    Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

    Revelation 20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

    Also pay very close attention to what these verses are saying –

    2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

    Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.

    Take note that it is clearly saying that “that day” shall not come till some point in time AFTER the Antichrist enters the rebuilt temple and proclaims to be God.

    (what is “that day” ? – it is in verse one, the day of “our gathering together unto him” – also known as the “rapture”)

    …….so these verses clearly prove that the “rapture can NOT possibly be pre-trib, and there are other verses that show a post-trib “rapture”.

    Does it really matter how we believe about the timing of the rapture, the following article written by an apostolic minister scripturally shows how important it can be –

    http://kenraggio.com/KRPN-PreOrPostTrib.htm

    Also read:

    http://kenraggio.com/KRPN-WhenWillTheRaptureTakePlace.htm

    (click on the above links to read articles)

    • Bro Gary, thanks for the post. Let me address each of your objections.

      First you began:
      Just wanted to share a really interesting scripture study I found !
      Revelation 20:4-5 clearly shows that the FIRST resurrection will INCLUDE endtime saints who RESISTED or OVERCAME the Mark of the Beast. That is certainly not a pre-trib scenario. If there will be people in the FIRST RESURRECTION who overcame the Mark of the Beast, then there will not be a rapture or resurrection before the Mark of the Beast!

      Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

      Revelation 20:5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.

      MY ANSWER:
      Brother while I don’t know you, I have to believe you are interested in eschatology and if so, then you want to be thoroughly accurate when assigning timelines for the rapture. First off, when alluding to the first and second resurrection as your source of refutation, you are ignoring the fact that there are at least 12 resurrections listed in the Bible so obviously the first and second resurrection in Revelation 20 either refers to others or the Bible contradicts itself- which you and I would be appalled to concede. Here are the resurrections:
      1. The widow’s son’s resurrection (1 Kings 17:19-24)
      2. The Shunammite’s son’s resurrection (2 Kings 4:32-35).
      3. The man in Elisha’s tomb’s resurrection (2 Kings 13:21).
      4. Lazarus’ resurrection (John 11:43-44).
      5. Jairus’ daughter’s resurrection (Matthew 9:23-26; Mark 5:21-43).
      6. The OT saints’ resurrection (Matthew 27:51-53)
      7. Eutychus’ resurrection (Acts 20:9-10).
      8. Tabitha’s resurrection (Acts 9:36-43)
      9. Christ’s resurrection (Matthew 28)
      10. The churches resurrection- called the rapture which occurs before the time of Jacob’s trouble (1 Cor. 15:51-52; 1 Thess. 4:13-18) and is perhaps concurrent with the signing of Antichrist’s 7 year Middle East treaty.
      11. The first resurrection- called the revelation (Dan. 7:13-14; Zech. 14:4; Rev. 19:11) which occurs after the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) before the Millennium (Dan. 12:1-2; Rev. 20:4-6)
      12. The second resurrection for judgment at the Great White Throne after the Millennium (Rev. 20:11-15)

      You then continued:
      Also pay very close attention to what these verses are saying –
      2 Thessalonians 2:1-4
      Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
      Take note that it is clearly saying that “that day” shall not come till some point in time AFTER the Anti-christ enters the rebuilt temple and proclaims to be God.
      (what is “that day” ? – it is in verse one, the day of “our gathering together unto him” – also known as the “rapture”)
      …….so these verses clearly prove that the “rapture can NOT possibly be pre-trib, and there are other verses that show a post-trib “rapture”.

      MY ANSWER:
      As with most post-tribbers who try to use this as their “gotcha” verse, you are missing the point of the en-tire passage. If the Thessalonians were supposed to endure the 7 year tribulation period as you’ve been led to believe, why were these folk scared that they were in it? Makes no sense and it can’t be ignored or ex-plained away.
      The fact is, Paul was talking about the day of Christ here (King James), which includes the day of the Lord, but in a broader sense.
      The Day of the Lord is a Jewish phrase that originated in prophecy. In fact, it is referred to specifically by nine OT prophets: Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 13:5; 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18,20; Obadiah 1:15; Zephaniah 1:7,8,14,18; 2:2,3; Zechariah 14:1; Malachi 4:5). It is also called the time of Jacob’s trouble by Jeremiah (30:7); and as a time of trouble by Daniel (12:1). Moses, the Lord Jesus, and John labeled this period the (great) tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). When studied in context one finds the entire purpose of the time of Jacob’s (Israel) trouble is a time when God will punish Israel and the world for sin and rejecting Christ while preparing Israel for the coming Davidic Covenant Millennial Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16; Isa. 14; etc). The day of the Lord is judgment against the proud (Isa. 2:12); destruction (Isa. 13:6; Joel 1:15); God’s fierce anger (Isa. 13:9; Zeph. 2:2); God’s vengeance for Zion (Isa. 34:8); God’s vengeance against His adversaries (Jer. 46:10; Obad. 1:15); terror (Lam. 2:22); Israel’s battle (Ezek. 13:5); the time of the heathen (Ezek. 30:3); a time of trembling (Joel 2:1); great and very terrible (Joel 2:11); dark and bloody moon (Joel 2:31; Acts 2:20); multitudes in the valley of decision (Joel 3:14); woe (Amos 5:18); darkness (Amos 5:20); bitter crying (Zeph. 1:14); and wrath (Zeph. 1:18). The day of the Lord is an extended period dispensationalists teach will commence with the signing of the seven year covenant (Dan. 9:27) and culminate with a great noise where the elements shall melt, and the earth and it’s works shall be burned up (2 Pet. 3:10).

      The Day of Christ is a Christian phrase Paul was given in the revelation of the mystery for the church. As a Hebrew scholar, Paul was well aware of the prophetic phrase the day of the Lord and knew it described the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble (Jer. 30:7). The fact that he opted to use the day of Christ, day of our Lord Jesus Christ, day of the Lord Jesus, and day of Jesus Christ rather than the day of the Lord signifies their distinctions. Arno Gaebelein explains:

      “There is an important difference between the day of Christ and the day of the Lord. The day of Christ concerns the Church, the saints of God. The day of the Lord concerns the earth– Israel and the na-tions. The day of Christ begins when He takes His saints in glory and they are with Him. The day of the Lord will bring . . . the visible manifestation of the Lord from heaven. The day of Christ comes first and the day of the Lord follows [and continues] at least seven years later. The day of the Lord does not concern the saints at all; it falls on the world. Before the day of the Lord can come, His saints have to be gathered together unto Him. The promise of 1Th_4:16-18 needs first to be fulfilled. (Paul) uses this hope of being gathered to Christ, when He comes for His saints, as a motive why they should not listen to those who said the day of [Christ] is present. He reminds them of the fact that their gathering unto Him had not yet taken place. How, then, could the day of the Lord be present?” (The Annotated Bible- Arno Gaebelein)

      Here are the 7 passages in the chronological order Paul wrote them. Please notice if you will that this is a definite terminal period that includes rewards and rejoicing and affects Christians only.

      • 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 (54 AD): Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (2) That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
      [Anti-PreTrib writers argue against imminency by claiming Paul taught the antichrist had to appear prior to the Rapture. This, of course, would place Christians in the time of Jacob’s trouble causing them to look for antichrist rather than Jesus Christ. The context of Paul’s words disproves this notion. A forged letter from Paul arrived in Thessalonica claiming the day of Christ (which includes the Rapture and the day of the Lord-or tribulation) was at hand or had begun. If Paul had taught them they were going through the time of Jacob’s trouble, why were they scared since Jesus would after all be returning within seven years? Moreover, why didn’t Paul encourage them to stock pile food, weapons, and other necessities since this would have been the perfect opportunity? The fact is, Paul clearly taught them two comings of Christ: the Rapture where the Lord comes for His church to deliver them from the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble aka day of the Lord which is to come (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:9, 23) and the Revelation where Christ returns with His church after the tribulation: 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; see Matt. 24:29; Rev. 19:11-21].

      Here are the remaining verses describing this event. No mention of judgment or any of the woes described by the nine prophets that warned Israel about the day of the Lord:
      • 1 Corinthians 1:8 (59 AD): Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
      • 1 Corinthians 5:5 (59 AD): To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
      • 2 Corinthians 1:14 (60 AD): As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.
      • Philippians 1:6 (64 AD): Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
      • Philippians 1:10 (64 AD): That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ.
      • Philippians 2:16 (64 AD): Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.

      The day of the Lord and the day of Christ are different; therefore they are not the same!

      Now, what about the rapture and the revelation:
      The Revelation- also called the Second Coming- is for Israel. Keep this in mind and prophecy becomes clearer. It originated through the prophets, centers around earth, concerns the establishment of the Da-vidic Covenant Kingdom in Jerusalem, and occurs at the completion of the great tribulation (Matt. 24:29) also known as the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7), and the day of the Lord (Isaiah 2:12; 13:6,9; 34:8; Jeremiah 46:10, etc).

      The Rapture is for the church. It originated with Paul, centers around heaven, and is a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) that removes the church (also a mystery) prior to the day of the Lord, at the day of Christ. Once the church is removed, the prophecy clock and final preparations for the Kingdom can once again get under-way.

      In order to fit the pieces together leading to the Kingdom, we need to understand Daniel’s seventy weeks. The Jewish prophet Daniel saw the Lord’s first presentation of the Kingdom in a prophecy he foretold of seventy weeks of seven years (for Israel) leading to the cutting off of the Messiah (Dan. 9:24-26). With the Davidic Covenant in mind, John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus Christ began preaching Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). This of course was God’s offer to inaugurate the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16) and fulfill Daniel’s prophecy. When Jesus was officially rejected on the exact day Daniel’s seventieth week was to begin, the prophetic calendar for Israel stopped making way for a parenthetic body to be inserted into the fabric of God’s providence- a mystery that was unknown by the prophets- called the church. However, this left unfulfilled one seven year period the prophets and dispensational scholars refer to as the time of Jacob’s (Israel) trouble (Jer. 30:7); the day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Joel 1:15, 2:1; etc); a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1); and the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21-29). Bear in mind, the day of the Lord is a Jewish phrase used by at least nine Jewish prophets that centers on earth and concerns Israel not the church (see Zech 12-14; Matthew 24; Rev. 12: the focus is Jerusalem and the abomination of desolation in the Temple Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

      Much of the last days time frame info comes to us from Daniel’s seventieth week which the Book of Revela-tion reveals as the worst period of devastation and anti-Semiticism in world history; the Beast attacks the saints of God (Jews: Dan. 7:18, 21-22, 25,27; Rev. 11:18; 13:7, 10; 14:12; 16:16; 17:6; 18:24, etc). In the end, Israel- at the point of utter annihilation at Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21)- will look up in time to see the nail scarred Messiah Jesus (Zech. 12:10) returning in glory to rescue them from total destruction. His feet will split open the Mount of Olives and He will gather earth’s survivors, separating the sheep from the goats in judgment (Matt. 25:31-33), therein establishing the Covenanted Kingdom of David (2 Sam. 7:16) in Jeru-salem. This visible, triumphant return to Israel- called the Revelation is an event the prophets of Israel saw (Dan. 7:13-14). What they didn’t see was the mystery; the church playing a parenthetic role during Israel’s blindness (Rom. 11:25). It was Paul- the converted Jewish scholar- that taught two separate comings of the Lord; one for Israel on earth which he’d learned in his Jewish studies (Dan. 7:13-14) at the feet of the brilliant Gamaliel (Acts 22:3); and one in the heavens for the church he learned from Jesus in the revelation of the mystery (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:3) separated by at least seven years that could begin shortly. The former called the Revelation (aka Second Coming) happens on earth and is for Israel; it will be seen by everyone in the world (Rev. 1:7). The latter called the Rapture happens in the heavens and will be seen only by those who look for Him (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; Heb. 9:28). In divine irony, the church- which began in a mystery- will likewise disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51). The Revelation and the Rapture are different; therefore they are not the same!

      Finally, you ended by presenting the website teachings of a trinity denying- Oneness United Pentecostal preacher. Brother Gary, while I read his material out of respect for you- I am frankly not surprised at this man’s erroneous conclusions about the pre-trib rapture given that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Gal. 5:9).

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